A D.C. district courts has struck down the so-called “quickie election” rules recently adopted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but only for a limited period. The new NLRB regulations went into effect on April 30, 2012 in an attempt to hasten the union elections process through the postponing voter-eligibility arguments under after balloting. The full list of changes brought about to the union election process includes:
• Hearing officers receive new powers such as the ability to limit the evidence presented at pre-election hearings and to deny employer requests to submit post-hearing briefs
• A prohibition on the filing of requests for Board reviews challenging the decisions of a regional director until after an election
• Eliminating the 25-day period between issuance of a decision and its implementation by regional union directors
• The ability for the Labor Board to deny requests for review of a regional director’s resolution of disputes claimed after an election
The rules have been temporarily blocked on a technicality which brought into question whether the Labor Board had a legal quorum when voting for the rules’ passage. The law requires a three member quorum while the NLRB vote had only two members present. The NLRB argued that the third member was technically present for the vote because of his previous participation in decisions made earlier regarding the rules. The judge disagreed:
“The NLRB’s suggestion that the quorum requirement was satisfied on the ground that three members held office when the rule was approved…contradicts [earlier rulings from] the Supreme Court as well as common practice (and common sense),” the judge wrote.
He subsequently suspended the rules but went on to state that “nothing appears to prevent a properly constituted quorum of the Board from voting to adopt the rule if it has the desire to do so.”